We continue in the book of Numbers, chapter 20, for the next occasion when the glory of the Lord appeared. ‘As this chapter opens, it is forty years since the Israelites left Egypt and thirty-eight years since they sent the spies into the land. The people had wandered for thirty-eight years and had now come back to Kadesh – the very place from which they had sent the spies. They were no closer to the promised land than they had been thirty-eight years earlier! Over 600,000 had died during the wasted years between chapters 19 and 20. The bitter fruit of unbelief was harvested in silence for an entire generation’.1
The people who now complained about the lack of water were a new generation, but they acted like their fathers. It was, as they complained, that the glory of the Lord appeared for the fourth time in this book. The Lord told Moses to speak to the rock, but by now, Moses’ patience had worn thin and he smote the rock twice; the waters flowed abundantly. The rock, being a type of Christ, was smitten once as recorded in Exodus chapter 17. The Lord Jesus was smitten at the cross, after which the Holy Spirit was given, ‘which he shed on us abundantly’, Titus 3. 6.
There are two recorded occasions when the glory of the Lord filled, firstly in connection with the Tabernacle in Exodus chapter 40, then with the Temple in 2 Chronicles chapter 7.
God had told Moses to make the Tabernacle after the pattern ‘which was shown thee in the mount’. Every detail was given to Moses, nothing was to be left to imagination. In Exodus chapters 39 and 40, some eighteen times we read, ‘as the Lord commanded Moses’ and ‘so Moses finished the work’. It was at that point that the glory of the Lord filled the house firstly for confirmation, then for consecration. How appropriate for the Tabernacle and its furnishings set forth the Person and the work of the Lord Jesus in a wonderful way!
It was at the dedication of the Temple when Solomon had prayed that the glory of the Lord appeared and filled the house, so much so that the priests could not enter. In Hebrews chapter 9 verse 8, we read, ‘The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing’. However, as, on the cross, the Saviour cried, ‘Finished’, the veil of the temple (Herod’s temple) was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, indicating, not only the end of the old system, but access into the very presence of God for all true believers. The exhortation is, ‘Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith’, Heb. 10. 22.
We find the last recorded occasion in Luke chapter 2. The first intimation of the birth of the Saviour was not given to the religious leaders at Jerusalem but to humble shepherds who were faithfully engaged in their regular occupation. It was their eyes which first saw the glory of the coming of the Lord into this world. The angel of the Lord appeared and the glory of the Lord shone round about them. As they recoiled in terror, the angel reassured them and broke the news. ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’. How would these shepherds recognize Him? ‘Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger’. Suddenly, a multitude of the heavenly host appeared, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men’.
As we remember the birth of the Saviour, (not just once a year!), may it be with gratitude, for He came to do the will of God in giving Himself for us and for our salvation. It will be our song in heaven – ‘Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood … to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen’, Rev. 1. 5-6.
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